Wednesday, September 18, 2013

One Week Ago Today

One week ago today (9/17/2013) my world was torn apart. My heart was shredded and a significant piece of it was left in a small but tranquil room in the back of the veterinarian's office. I will miss that piece very much and and will continue to do so for as long as I draw breath. That piece's name was Gia and I am writing this blog and telling the world of her passing because I want the world to know she existed. She lived for almost thirteen years, 11 and a half of which I was lucky enough to share with her.

It was pure happenstance that I came to live with Gia. In her first year and a half of life, she had four different owners. On her second stay at the Humane League of Lancaster county, my friend's mother toldher to look at Gia's picture on the league's website. My friend immediately told me I had to see this dog. So even though I had no intention of obtaining another four legged companion (I already had a dog named Otto, who was the master of all he surveyed and a cat named Buddy), I looked. I looked and fell in love with her immediately. She looked so scared I had to go see her right away. When I went to the league to visit her and see if we were a good match, a small girl went back to get her. She was at the end of her stay there (they were a kill shelter at the time and had tried to contact a rescue for wolfhounds but no one had returned their calls yet). A young girl went back to bring her out and she came barging out of the double doors dragging the girl behind her as she windmilled her way across the linoleum floor toward me, barking her head off the entire way. My first thought upon seeing this spectacle was "yep, that's my dog."

Gia never stopped making a spectacle when in public, me and the man actually found this over the top behavior endearing because after she would bark her head off at someone, all they had to do was put their hand down toward her and she would run over and jam her head into their legs. This was how she hugged people and she loved to do this almost as much as she loved to terrorize the cat. Poor Buddy never really did forgive me for adopting Gia and after losing several futon mattresses to his anger we found a way to give him his own space above her reach. Tom built him his very own room off of the closet with ramps and  balcony access to the living room. He would lay up there and stare down at us all day long and patrol the house at his leisure at night. Gia of course would lunge at the wall just to watch him flinch but after a few bottles of spray water (which had no affect on her whatsoever), lots of drywall spackling and a little time, she grew bored of this game and life settled down into a comfortable pattern for all.

We did try to train her, I took her to a local obedience school, where my eighteen month old Irish Wolfhound mix looked like a eighteen year old in a kindergarten class. We failed. But we had fun doing it. (she did everything really well but the last command of "come" always translated for her into "run right toward me and then veer off at the last minute and run around everyone else like a total maniac." In all fairness to her, they do sound alike.)

As all patterns do eventually, this one broke down after Otto passed and Gia went through a heartbreaking depression. Then Seamus came to live with us and Gia glared at us for three months straight before she realized she could intimidate his big bully butt by turning the tables on him. Gia taught Seamus how to stand in the yard and bark at all the neighborhood dogs. With our help she also taught him to respect his elders and to stop trying to sit on her head when she was napping. Toward the end of her life, she learned from Seamus too. She learned how to turn in silly circles to illustrate how excited she was for her treat. We could tell she did not get the point of this behavior but she continued to do it long after she was tired and dizzy because she made her humans laugh. Seamus also taught her how to dig. The look on her face after she tossed her first pile of dirt behind her was priceless. I am glad I did not miss this moment. A moment that could have easily gone by without notice as I sat at my computer near the window and the man was getting ready for work.

I want the world to know how amazing and caring of a dog she was. A dog others discarded and wrote off as being a discipline problem (there is no discipline in this house, so no problem) turned out to be a large part of my family and an even bigger part of my heart. And most importantly, I want the world to know she was loved, adored even, and will be missed.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Misanthropic Monday

I am full of malice and spite today, which means it is time for another installment of Misanthropic Monday. I handle all my extra malevolence by tossing out random bits of venom for your to read, analyze (if you want to be bothered), compare and choose from to hate right along with me. It is very cathartic for a Monday, the most hateful day of the week.

1. I was at the bank today and I saw a kid pull up to the ATM in his car. He was wearing ear buds in both ears listening to his mp3 player. At first I got upset about the fact that there is an entire generation of young adults wondering around loose that should have been too stupid to survive childhood. After a brief rant on this topic I realize where the real blame belongs. It belongs with my generation because they failed to eat their young.

2. Silly college girls/boys who consistently chose the one road in the entire town that does not have a side walk, shoulder, or even enough extra room for a pedestrian and a car to share the same lane, for their daily run. In the college there is a brand new, expensive, and actually rather plush running track built just for the college kids (lord knows the track team won't be using it since the college disbanded the team last year). Also less than a mile in either direction of this narrow, shoulder-less road are two pleasant little parks, with tracks again created for runners, dog walkers, and just people out for a stroll. Seriously, why do they insist on jogging on this one treacherous road that I must travel to and from work? I think the blame again lies with my generation.

3. People who forget the object is to grow old gracefully. Seriously, you know who you are. Knock it off. No one says you have to act your age but please just stop making a spectacle of yourself. Its awkward for the rest of us and I hate it when someone else makes me feel embarrassed for them.

4. My dog is dying. Her name is Gia and she is a beautiful Irish Wolfhound mix (the other half is really freaking hairy) who came into my life after her found herself for the second time at the local humane league. She has terminal cancer of her urinary tract. The cancer metastasized. We found out in January, shortly after having to say goodbye to our seventeen year old cat, Buddy.  We were told then that she probably only had three months to live, possibly six if we put her through chemo. We opted not to torture her for only a few extra months. Nine months later she is still with us. I had begun to believe she would live to see her thirteenth birthday next month. 

For some stupid reason when we found out, all I could wish for was for her to live to see her next birthday. What can I say, grief is not a rational beast. This past week she has taken a turn for the worse. She still loves to be snuggled, she wants to be in the room with us when we are home but she has difficulty in standing all of a sudden. At first I thought it was because of the weight she lost once her appetite diminished and it took us some time to find a food she would eat more than one meal at a time (I have a new respect for parents of toddlers that are finicky eaters). The solution to her appetite problem was of all things a wet dog food that is very similar to stew. She seems to love the stuff. She put on some of the weight that she lost so quickly as we tried different options to entice her to eat (Arby's roast beef sandwich was a favorite for a time but we could not keep up with the demand).  However, she still cannot stand for more than a minute, her legs wobble too much when she tries to go to the bathroom, causing her to stubble when at her most vulnerable but still she turns her eyes to me and I see nothing but pure love, which breaks my heart because I know the time is soon.

You might be wondering where in those past two paragraphs is a nugget worthy of shining up a new hate on for? The answer is nowhere but I think about how much love she still holds for us and then I think about all those assholes in the world that do horrible things to dogs, animals, and other creatures who are at their mercy. Dogs who have done nothing but shine up eyes filled with love and trust for the hand that mistreats them, and then, and then I hate. I hate completely and with all the force that only a heart filled with so much love for another can hate. 

But right now what I hate the most is that I am afraid I am being selfish by keeping her around. I hate that she won't see her thirteenth birthday. I hate that for one brief moment today I thought about when it would be most convenient for my schedule to take her to the vet. And I hate that I am afraid to say goodbye and I hate that I have to be the grown up that makes the decision of when it is time to say goodbye. 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Book Review: Indelible (The Twixt 1) by Dawn Metcalf

Indelible was a book that I needed time to think about how I really felt before reviewing. This by no means is an indicator that it is a bad book or an overly flawed book, in reality it is far from either of those options. Most books become my favorite book while I am reading but lose a little luster after I finish. I think this syndrome has to do with how involved I become in the world the author has created. Indelible was one of those books that sucked me in completely and took me through the story so fast (not too fast mind you, well maybe in some spots but I will discuss those areas later) that I was so overwhelmed by its characters and the new world that I was unable to form a solid opinion about the book itself until I was able to establish a degree of separation and approach it objectively. Two thumbs up to Dawn Metcalf for creating a world that pulls you in and holds you tightly until it is ready to let you go. 

Judging by the some of the Goodreads comments, some people are not grabbed as thoroughly by the story as I was. I try not to read any other reviews of books before I right my own but once I was sure I was going to review the book today, I went in to alter my review of the book accordingly and saw a few of the comments, which led me to read a few more. It happens.

Let me tell you about Indelible...

When we enter the story, we are introduced to Joy Malone, a teenage girl who lives alone with her father. Joy only has one true friend and still seems to be wrestling with feelings of betrayal and abandonment by her mother, who after having an affair chose to leave her family to live with a much younger man in California. Joy's sense of abandonment also extends to her brother, who left for his first year of college soon after their mother moved to California.  In an effort to pull Joy out of her ever increasing shell, Monica, Joy's best and only friend, convinces her to go to the Carousel (an actual carousel that has been converting into an all age nightclub at a fair) for a night of dancing.

It is under the swirl of lights and during the twirl of the carousel that Joy first spots the boy with eyes that are completely black staring at her. Little does she know this random glance will result in an act of violence that will alter her knowledge of the world around her.

After Joy's eye is injured she begins to see strange things. Worse these strange things keep trying to give her messages to deliver to a person she does not know. Bewildered, Joy fears that she is going insane, but can insanity break your second story kitchen window from the outside while you are inside? Joy will learn very soon that the strange man who attacked her is named Indelible Ink and because he failed to to take her eye altogether, she is now permanently marked as his. And in order to save them both, she must act as if the marking was not a mistake and undertake the task of pretending to be his lehman in order to keep their secret. With the aid of Indelible, his sister, Invisible Inq, and Graus Claude, the Bailiwick, Joy learns how to navigate the weird, bizarre, and often down right horrific world that lies between myth and reality, the Twixt.

As stated earlier, I feel Metcalf did an admirable job of world building. Some people (those darn Goodreads comments) have voiced their opinion that the characters were not endearing or were in some way inaccessible to them as readers. I actually liked the aloofness of the characters when we first meet them and I appreciated that while they were drawn to each other, the relationship part of Indelible was every bit awkward and alien as a relationship between a mortal teenage girl and an immortal boy/man created in the Twixt should be. I do feel that some areas of the story were a little unbalanced such as Joy's relationships with her family members. They all seem stunted and more awkward than her beginning relationship with Indelible but this is not unusual for a teenage girl in a family that fell apart. My issues with how the family relationships were expressed lies in the abruptness of the resolutions to the relationships' tensions.

Yet despite this odd feeling of too sudden closure, I found the first book in the series enthralling. I eagerly await the second installment from Metcalf.